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Issue Number: Council III 006


Re-create - Hand Hygiene Committee

Issue you would like the Conference to consider

Re-creation of the Hand Hygiene Committee to more closely examine the current "Food Code" requirements for when employees are required to wash their hands using soap and running water, and potentially identify alternative approaches, where appropriate.

Public Health Significance

The main purpose of washing hands is to cleanse the hands of soil, pathogens and chemicals that can potentially cause disease. Transmission of pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites to food from contaminated surfaces, raw food or ill workers by way of improperly washed hands continues to be a major factor in the spread of foodborne illnesses. The 2010-2012 Hand Hygiene Committee believes that the necessary ground work was established during its deliberations to make informed recommendations on specific situations where application of alternatives to handwashing may be appropriate to reduce public health risk.

Recommended Solution: The Conference recommends...

1. Re-creation of the Hand Hygiene Committee to:

  • More closely examine the current Food Code requirements for when employees are required to wash their hands using soap and running water.
  • If credible research suggests that one or more of the situations under which food employees are currently required to wash their hands does not result in meaningful risk reduction, work with FDA to explore whether those mandates could be modified, either in the Code itself or by recognizing when it is appropriate to waive the requirement (e.g., other approaches to hand hygiene are available and practiced).

2. The re-created committee uses the report of the 2010-2012 committee as a reference, illustrating the interactions of scientific, regulatory and behavioral considerations related to alternative hand hygiene regimes compared to handwashing. The committee should characterize what recent research tells us about:

  • the extent to which the current minimum requirements for how and when employees are to wash their hands are effective in rendering food employees hands free of various soils, as well as, any pathogens of concern;
  • what other regimens for cleansing employees hands, if any, may deliver outcomes that are similar to or better than handwashing so as to suggest that they could be included as acceptable methods for rendering hands free of soil and pathogens.

3. The committee report back its findings to the 2014 Biennial Meeting.


See Report - Hand Hygiene Committee, Attachment #1 titled 2010-2012 Hand Hygiene Committee Final Report

Submitter Information

Name Katherine M.J. Swanson, Co-Chair
Organization 2010-2012 Hand Hygiene Committee
Address Ecolab Inc., 655 Lone Oak Drive
Eagan, MN 55121
Telephone 651-795-5943
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